• Sweden's news in English
 
app_header_v3
Opinion
'Networking in Sweden needs more guanxi'
A woman meets Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg at a conference in Beijing. Photo: Andy Wong/TT

'Networking in Sweden needs more guanxi'

The Local · 12 Jan 2016, 08:22

Published: 12 Jan 2016 08:22 GMT+01:00
Updated: 12 Jan 2016 08:22 GMT+01:00

You might have just landed in this beautiful Nordic country, or you might have been living here for quite many years. Either way, let's be brutally honest: networking in Sweden is broken.

People try to network at some of the many different mingle events, and spend a lot of time trying to find new people to add to their social media profiles. But how efficient are these events? Do you get much out of them? I never did.

When I came to Sweden around 10 years ago I invested a lot of time in networking and meeting people. I made so many 'hi-bye' friends at these events – more than you could imagine.

In the culture I grew up in, people value 'guanxi' – a Chinese word describing a deep, meaningful connection. Mentorship and knowledge exchange is valued so highly that there is an old Chinese proverb: “Being a mentor for one day, means a lifetime fatherhood.”

For this reason, relationship-building is a big part of business and social culture in China. When I first came to Sweden, I was far from my family and friends, and my biggest worry was that I would not be able to find success as an entrepreneur without the right 'guanxi'.

Everyone wants success, and no one is born knowing how to get it. The way to learn is to ask the ones who have been there and done that. Successful people say that finding a mentor is the biggest factor in achieving success. We can't learn the hard lessons all by ourselves, and we can't pick up the huge amount of implicit knowledge in a business community by ourselves. We all need help from someone in order to learn.

Needing others is not a weakness; it's a strength. Your ability to copy someone successful is the biggest predictor of your own success. It has been said that good artists copy but great artists steal. Most of the people who were successful had mentors. Albert Einstein had lunch with his mentor every Thursday. Bill Gates had Paul Allen and Warren Buffet had Benjamin Graham.

Here is the golden rule of networking: you shall spend your time in thirds.

Spend one third of your time mentoring the people who are not as knowledgeable as you are, and they will return the favour by making you feel good about yourself.

Spend one third of your time with people who are on the same level as you, because they will give you a new perspective on the things you (think you) already know.

Spend one third of your time with people who are a decade or two ahead of you, because they will make you uncomfortable but teach you the secrets of their success.

You may be asking yourself, why would successful people want to meet a person like me? You may doubt that you could be interesting to them, and you might be afraid they will reject you. They might. But there are some strategies you can use to get them interested. First, be humble. You are asking them for something, and it's best to be up front about that. Second, persevere. Keep trying, and don't take No for an answer. At least not the first half-dozen times.

Guanxi is the connecting force in the world, and I want to create more of it. This is the reason that we started Lunchback, an app that can be used to find yourself a mentor in your local area. From this experience, we know that successful people who want to be mentors are available and interested in helping more junior people to succeed and progress in their careers.

Networking should not be about fleeting encounters, it should be about creating community. The most valuable social capital is the intimate, supportive relationships that spur collaboration while deeply satisfying our human need for connection, belonging and meaning.

These are the rules we should all live by:

1. Inspire and teach others with great stories, and be ready to learn from them too.

2. Build friendships, not just hi-bye relationships.

Story continues below…

3. Show love: appreciate the mentoring and love who you are.

4. Have fun: the unexpected moments are often the most fun and most meaningful.

You will be surprised at how willing other people are to meet you in real life – all you have to do is ask for it in a safe environment. Mentorship is the shortcut to your success. It won't come easy, it still takes a lot of hard work, but this difficulty is what makes success worth celebrating.

Remember this equation: your success in life = the people you meet + what you create together.

Jimmy Zhao is the CEO and founder of Lunchback.

For more news from Sweden, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

The Local (news@thelocal.se)

Today's headlines
Swedish economy beating European giants in 2016
New numbers from Statistics Sweden paint a positive picture. Photo: Micke Larsson/TT

Sweden's economy is leaving the likes of Germany and Great Britain in its wake, figures suggest.

Video
Meet Dynamite Erik, a Swede who blows things up for fun
Who doesn't want to blow up a computer? Photo: Erik Johansson

The Local talks to a Swedish farmer who has turned his hobby of blowing things up into a YouTube sensation.

Swedish police to trial use of taser guns
A file photo of a Swedish police officer. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

The weapons are designed to incapacitate assailants through an electrical current.

Swedish woman denied job because of her head scarf
Gothenburg resident Ruya El Hattawi, who says she was denied a job because of her veil. Photo: Private

Delight over tying down a summer job soon gave way to shock when the offer was withdrawn.

Fans threatening boycott of Johnny Depp's Stockholm gig
Johnny Depp and the Hollywood Vampires performing at the 2016 Grammy Awards. Photo: Matt Sayles/Invision/AP

But others were queuing outside on Monday morning.

Good news: The Swedish summer has returned
It could be time for that first swim of the year in Sweden. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

Time to put away those waterproofs and bring out the bathing suits once more.

Zlatan's sore calf forces him to sit out Sweden's friendly
Zlatan Ibrahimovic at the Sweden team's training camp. Photo: Erik Nylander/TT

So does that mean Slovenia will beat Sweden on Monday?

'Sweden would not be able to defend Gotland'
File photo of a military exercise. Photo: Stefan Jerrevång/TT

Sweden would not be able to make a stand if it came to an invasion of the Baltic Sea island by foreign forces, one expert has said.

My Swedish Career
'Sweden is the ideal place for my business'
Emilie Terstegge. Photo: Sandra Jolly Photography.

Why Sweden's fitness craze and generous family benefits helped this Dutch entrepreneur launch her startup for mums.

Police shoot knife man in central Stockholm
Police technicians spent the rest of Saturday night combing the square for clues. Photo: TT

A knife-wielding man was shot by police officers in Stockholm’s Sergel Square after he attacked officers.

Sponsored Article
'Only soft power can defeat radicalism'
Gallery
People-watching: May 27th-29th
Sponsored Article
'Sweden gives artists the space to follow their dreams'
National
First migrants make it from Denmark to Sweden on foot
Gallery
The best, cutest and funniest snaps from Prince Oscar's christening
Blog updates

27 May

Editor’s blog, May 27th (The Local Sweden) »

"Hej readers, Would you spend a day doing manual labour in high heels? That’s what Swedish…" READ »

 

17 May

What about “att”? (The Swedish Teacher) »

"Hej! It often seems like the small words are the ones that cause the most confusion.…" READ »

 
 
 
Sponsored Article
How to find student housing in Malmö: 5 tips
Travel
Is this town the best place in Sweden?
Sponsored Article
Can you afford to live in Stockholm? (Hint: yes)
Gallery
People-watching: May 25th
Society
WATCH: Why Swedish handyman wore pink high heels for feminism
Sport
LIST: Top-ten ridiculous things Zlatan has compared himself to
Sponsored Article
Stockholm makes it easier for refugees to meet startups
Business & Money
Why Swedes don't want the euro
Sponsored Article
Food, fun, and reliable sun: Summer in Dubrovnik
Fastighetsbyrån
Gallery
Property of the week: Vika, Falun
National
Is this the most Swedish tattoo ever?
Sponsored Article
How Stockholm startups help new employees feel at home
Gallery
People-watching: May 20th-22nd
Sponsored Article
Why Stockholm attracts so many successful researchers
National
How to really annoy a Swede abroad
National
How this war veteran is warming hearts in Sweden
Sponsored Article
VIDEO: Why Malmö is the world's 6th best city for biking
Gallery
People-watching: May 18th
Sponsored Article
'Sweden gives artists the space to follow their dreams'
National
How this Swede's viral ad totally nailed Stockholm's housing crisis
Sponsored Article
Retiring abroad: ensuring your health is covered
Gallery
Property of the week: Vasastaden, Gothenburg
Sponsored Article
Can you afford to live in Stockholm? (Hint: yes)
Lifestyle
The best Swedish cities for dating
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Gallery
People-watching: May 13th-15th
Culture
BLOG: Eurovision as it happened
National
Why a 116-year-old Swede isn't the world's oldest woman
National
Youth unemployment falls in Sweden
Gallery
People-watching: May 11th
Gallery
People-watching: May 6th-8th
3,357
jobs available
PSD Media
PSD Media is marketing company that offers innovative solutions for online retailers. We provide modern solutions that help increase traffic and raise conversion. Visit our site at:
psdmedia.se